Hoteliers across Orange County and Los Angeles are claiming the union representing striking hotel workers is negotiating in bad faith and have filed unfair labor practices charges against the labor group.
It comes as thousands of hotel workers could walk off their jobs at any time for better pay as workers struggle to pay the rent amid rising housing costs.
The Coordinated Bargaining Group, representing hotels in LA and OC, filed charges to the National Labor Relations Board on June 30, saying Unite Here Local 11 violated the law just before workers went on strike over the weekend.
The group also says Unite Here — the hotel worker union — is insisting hotels agree to terms that have nothing to do with employees, including a 7% tax on guests at unionized hotels, expanding union locations outside LA and supporting a ballot measure that would house homeless people at hotels.
View the filing here.
“Insisting that these provisions must be in any contract settlement and striking to include them is not only unlawful, but it is also a real obstacle to reaching agreement on a contract,” said Keith Grossman, spokesperson for the Coordinated Bargaining Group in a news release.
“If the Union really wanted an agreement to help the employees, it would have dropped
these issues long ago instead of taking employees out on strike over them.”
Ada Briceño, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, said in a Thursday phone interview hoteliers are on the defense.
“We know that the strikes are impacting them and so they want to get back at us,” she said. “We’re not moving away from our demands.”
She adds that hoteliers need to focus on reaching an agreement, but did not refute claims made by the group.
Pete Hillan, a spokesman for the California Hotel and Lodging Association, said in a Thursday phone call it’s not the job of the union or hotels to address housing issues.
“You can’t have a union and a hotel group deciding how taxes should go that has to be done among elected officials,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that this has been Unite Here’s approach.”
Maria Hernandez, a spokesperson for Unite Here, said Thursday that the 7% tax on guests would be used towards a housing fund to develop affordable homes for workers and that hotels are already profiting off “junk” fees they charge guests.
“It would go to help their workers who are some of the most affected by the housing crisis, to actually be able to live where they work and help create affordable housing,” she said. “If they actually did care about their workers, they would do that.”
The charges came before thousands of hotel workers went on strike Sunday over better pay to help address rising housing costs.
In what looks like a series of rolling strikes, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that workers at 19 hotels across OC and LA returned to work to make way for walkouts at other hotels in the region.
Briceño said while no workers are on strike today, there will be more walkouts at unspecified hotels in the region.
It comes after a hotel worker in Irvine filed a lawsuit last week against the local Hilton Hotel for allegedly violating the city’s recently adopted hotel worker protection ordinance.
And after city councilmembers in Anaheim – home to the Disneyland resort – called for a $1.6 million special election to vote on a ballot measure, proposed by Unite Here, that would bump the minimum wage for hotel workers to $25 an hour.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
Since you’ve made it this far,
You obviously care about local news and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford, but it’s not free to produce. Help us become 100% reader funded with a tax deductible donation. For as little as $5 a month you can help us reach that goal.